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Buddha or Karl Marx 


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Editorial Note in the source publication: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: 
Writings and Speeches, Vol. 3: 

The Committee found three different typed copies of an essay on Buddha and 
Karl Marx in loose sheets, two of which have corrections in the author’s own 
handwriting. After scrutinising these, this essay is compiled incorporating the 
corrections. The essay is divided into sub-topics as shown below: Introduction 

1. The Creed of the Buddha 

2. The Original Creed of Karl Marx 

3. What survives of the Marxian Creed? 

4. Comparison between Buddha and Karl Marx 

5. Means 

6. Evaluation of Means 

7. Whose Means are More Efficacious? 

8. Withering away of the State 

— Editors. 

A comparison between Karl Marx and Buddha may be regarded as a joke. 
There need be no surprise in this. Marx and Buddha are divided by 2381 years. 
Buddha was born in 563 BC and Karl Marx in 1818 AD Karl Marx is supposed to 
be the architect of a new ideology-polity a new Economic system. The Buddha 
on the other hand is believed to be no more than the founder of a religion, which 
has no relation to politics or economics. The heading of this essay " Buddha or 

Karl Marx " which suggests either a comparison or a contrast between two such 
personalities divided by such a lengthy span of time and occupied with different 
fields of thought is sure to sound odd. The Marxists may easily laugh at it and 
may ridicule the very idea of treating Marx and Buddha on the same level. Marx 
so modern and Buddha so ancient! The Marxists may say that the Buddha as 
compared to their master must be just primitive. What comparison can there be 
between two such persons? What could a Marxist learn from the Buddha? What 
can Buddha teach a Marxist? None-the-less a comparison between the two is a 
attractive and instructive Having read both and being interested in the ideology of 
both a comparison between them just forces itself on me. If the Marxists keep 
back their prejudices and study the Buddha and understand what he stood for I 
feel sure that they will change their attitude. It is of course too much to expect 
that having been determined to scoff at the Buddha they will remain to pray. But 
this much can he said that they will realise that there is something in the 
Buddha's teachings which is worth their while to take note of. 


The Buddha is generally associated with the doctrine of Ahimsa. That is taken 
to be the be-all and end-all of his teachings. Hardly any one knows that what the 
Buddha taught is something very vast: far beyond Ahimsa. It is therefore 
necessary to set out in detail his tenets. I enumerate them below as I have 
understood them from my reading of the Tripitaka : 

1 . Religion is necessary for a free Society. 

2. Not every Religion is worth having. 3. Religion must relate to facts of life and 
not to theories and speculations about God, or Soul or Heaven or Earth. 

4. It is wrong to make God the centre of Religion. 

5. It is wrong to make salvation of the soul as the centre of Religion. 

6. It is wrong to make animal sacrifices to be the centre of religion. 

7. Real Religion lives in the heart of man and not in the Shastras. 

8. Man and morality must be the centre of religion. If not, Religion is a cruel 

9. It is not enough for Morality to be the ideal of life. Since there is no God it 
must become the Jaw of life. 10. The function of Religion is to reconstruct the 
world and to make it happy and not to explain its origin or its end. 

1 1 . That the unhappiness in the world is due to conflict of interest and the only 
way to solve it is to follow the Ashtanga Marga. 

12. That private ownership of property brings power to one class and sorrow to 

13. That it is necessary for the good of Society that this sorrow be removed by 
removing its cause. 

14. Ail human beings are equal. 

1 5. Worth and not birth is the measure of man. 

16. What is important is high ideals and not noble birth. 

17. Maitri or fellowship towards all must never be abandoned. One owes it even 
to one's enemy. 

18. Every one has a right to learn. Learning is as necessary for man to live as 
food is. 

19. Learning without character is dangerous. 

20. Nothing is infallible. Nothing is binding forever. Every thing is subject to 
inquiry and examination. 21 . Nothing is final. 

22. Every thing is subject to the law of causation. 

23. Nothing is permanent or sanatan. Every thing is subject to change. Being is 
always becoming. 

24. War is wrong unless it is for truth and justice. 

25. The victor has duties towards the vanquished. This is the creed of the 
Buddha in a summary form. How ancient hut how fresh! How wide and how deep 
are his teachings! 


Let us now turn to the creed of Karl Marx as originally propounded by him. Karl 
Marx is no doubt the father of modern socialism or Communism but he was not 
interested merely in propounding the theory of Socialism. That had been done 
long before him by others. Marx was more interested in proving that his 
Socialism was scientific. His crusade was as much against the capitalists as it 
was against those whom he called the Utopian Socialists. He disliked them both. 
It is necessary to note this point because Marx attached the greatest importance 
to the scientific character of his Socialism. All the doctrines which Marx 
propounded had no other purpose than to establish his contention that his brand 
of Socialism was scientific and not Utopian. 

By scientific socialism what Karl Marx meant was that his brand of socialism 
was inevitable and inescapable and that society was moving towards it and that 
nothing could prevent its march. It is to prove this contention of his that Marx 
principally laboured. Marx's contention rested on the following theses. They 
were: — 

(i) That the purpose of philosophy is to reconstruct the world and not to explain 
the origin of the universe. 

(ii) That the force which shapes the course of history are primarily economic. 

(iii) That society is divided into two classes, owners and workers, (iv) That there 
is always a class conflict going on between the two classes. 

(v) That the workers are exploited by the owners who misappropriate the 
surplus value, which is the result of the workers' labour. 

(vi) That this exploitation can be put an end to by nationalisation of the 
instruments of production i.e. abolition of private property. 

(vii) That this exploitation is leading to greater and greater impoverishment of 
the workers. 

(viii) That this growing impoverishment of the workers is resulting in a 
revolutionary spirit among the workers and the conversion of the class conflict 
into a class struggle. 

(ix) That as the workers outnumber the owners, the workers are bound to 
capture the State and establish their rule, which he called the dictatorship of the 

(x) These factors are irresistible and therefore socialism is inevitable. 

I hope I have reported correctly the propositions, which formed the original 
basis of Marxian Socialism. 


Before making a comparison between the ideologies of the Buddha and Karl 
Marx it is necessary to note how much of this original corpus of the Marxian 
creed has survived; how much has been disproved by history and how much has 
been demolished by his opponents. 

The Marxian Creed was propounded sometime in the middle of the nineteenth 
century. Since then it has been subjected to much criticism. As a result of this 
criticism much of the ideological structure raised by Karl Marx has broken to 
pieces. There is hardly any doubt that Marxist claim that his socialism was 
inevitable has been completely disproved. The dictatorship of the Proletariat was 
first established in 1917 in one country after a period of something like seventy 
years after the publication of his Das Capital the gospel of socialism. Even when 
the Communism — which is another name for the dictatorship of the Proletariat — 
came to Russia, it did not come as something inevitable without any kind of 
human effort. There was a revolution and much deliberate planning had to be 
done with a lot of violence and blood shed, before it could step into Russia. The 
rest of the world is still waiting for coming of the Proletarian Dictatorship. Apart 
from this general falsification of the Marxian thesis that Socialism is inevitable, 
many of the other propositions stated in the lists have also been demolished both 
by logic as well as by experience. Nobody now I accepts the economic 
interpretation of history as the only explanation of history. Nobody accepts that 

the proletariat has been progressively pauperised. And the same is true about his 
other premises. 

What remains of the Karl Marx is a residue of fire, small but still very important. 
The residue in my view consists of four items: 

(i) The function of philosophy is to reconstruct the world and not to waste its 
time in explaining the origin of the world, (ii) That there is a conflict of interest 
between class and class, (iii) That private ownership of property brings power to 
one class and sorrow to another through exploitation. 

(iv) That it is necessary for the good of society that the sorrow be removed by 
the abolition of private property. 


Taking the points from the Marxian Creed which have survived one may now 
enter upon a comparison between the Buddha and Karl Marx. 

On the first point there is complete agreement between the Buddha and Karl 
Marx. To show how close is the agreement I quote below a part of the dialogue 
between Buddha and the Brahmin Potthapada. 

"Then, in the same terms, Potthapada asked (the Buddha) each of the following 

1 . Is the world not eternal? 

2. Is the world finite? 

3. Is the world infinite? 

4. Is the soul the same as the body? 

5. Is the soul one thing, and the body another? 

6. Does one who has gained the truth live again after death ? 

7. Does he neither live again, nor not live again, after death ? And to each 
question the exalted one made the same reply: It was this. 

"That too, Potthapada, is a matter on which I have expressed no opinion 

28. " But why has the Exalted One expressed no opinion on that ? " (Because) 
'This question is not calculated to profit, it is not concerned with (the Dhamma) it 
does not redound even to the elements of right conduct, nor to detachment nor to 
purification from lust, nor to quietude, nor to tranquillisation of heart, nor to real 
knowledge, nor to the insight (of the higher stages of the Path), nor to Nirvana. 
Therefore it is that I express no opinion upon it. " On the second point I give 
below a quotation from a dialogue between Buddha and Pasenadi King of 

" Moreover, there is always strife going on between kings, between ' nobles, 
between Brahmins, between house holders, between mother and son, between 
son and father, between brother and sister, , between sister and brother, 

between companion and companion. . ' Although these are the words of 

Pasenadi, the Buddha did not deny that they formed a true picture of society. 

As to the Buddha's own attitude towards class conflict his doctrine of 
Ashtanga Marga recognises that class conflict exists and that it is ; the class 
conflict which is the cause of misery. 

On the third question I quote from the same dialogue of Buddha with 

" Then what is it that the Exalted One has determined? " " I have 
expounded, Potthapada, that sorrow and misery exist! " I have expounded, 
what is the origin of misery. I have expounded what is the cessation of 
misery: I have expounded what is method by which one may reach the 
cessation of misery. 

30. 'And why has the Exalted One put forth a statement as to that?' 

' Because that questions Potthapada, is calculated to profit, is concerned 
with the Dhamma redounds to the beginnings of right conduct, to 
detachment, to purification from lusts, to quietude, to tranquillisation of 
heart, to real knowledge, to the insight of the higher stages of the Path and 
to Nirvana. Therefore is it, Potthapada that I have put forward a statement 
as to that. ' 

That language is different but the meaning is the same. If for misery one 
reads exploitation Buddha is not away from Marx. 

On the question of private property the following extract from a dialogue 
between Buddha and Ananda is very illuminating. In reply to a question by 
Ananda the Buddha said: 

"I have said that avarice is because of possession. Now in what way that 
is so, Ananda, is to be understood after this manner. Where there is no 
possession of any sort or kind whatever by any one or anything, then there 
being no possession whatever, would there, owing to this cessation of 
possession, be any appearance of avarice? " 'There would not. Lord". 

'Wherefore, Ananda, just that is the ground, the basis, the genesis, the 
cause of avarice, to wit, possession. 

31. 'I have said that tenacity is the cause possession. Now in what way 
that is so, Ananda, is to be understood after this manner. Were there no 
tenacity of any sort or kind whatever shown by any one with respect to any 
thing, then there being whatever, would there owing to this cessation of 
tenacity, be any appearance of possession? ' 'There would not. Lord.' 

'Wherefore, Ananda, just that is the ground, the basis, the genesis, the 
cause of possession, to wit tenacity. ' On the fourth point no evidence is 
necessary. The rules of the Bhikshu Sangh will serve as the best testimony 
on the subject. 

According to the rules a Bhikku can have private property only in the 
following eight articles and no more. These eight articles are: — 

1 I 

2. } Three robes or pieces of cloth for daily wear. 

3. I 

4. A girdle for the loins. 

5. An alms-bowl. 

6. A razor. 

7. A needle. 

8. A water strainer. 

Further a Bhikku was completely forbidden to receive gold or silver for 
fear that with gold or silver he might buy some thing beside the eight things 
he is permitted to have. 

These rules are far more rigorous than are to be found in communism in 


We must now come to the means. The means of bringing about Communism, 
which the Buddha propounded, were quite definite. The means can he decided 
into three parts. Part I consisted in observing the Pancha Silas. The 
Enlightenment gave birth to a new gospel, which contains the key to the solution 
ofthe problem, which was haunting him. 

The foundation of the New Gospel is the fact that the world was full of misery 
and unhappiness. It was fact not merely to be noted but to be regarded as being 
the first and foremost in any scheme of salvation. The recognition of this fact the 
Buddha made the starting point of his gospel. 

To remove this misery and unhappiness was to him the aim and object of the 
gospel if it is to serve any useful purpose. 

Asking what could be the causes of this misery the Buddha found that there 
could be only two. 

A part of the misery and unhappiness of man was the result of his own 
misconduct. To remove this cause of misery he preached the practice of Panch 

The Panch Sila comprised the following observations: (1) To abstain from 
destroying or causing destruction of any living things (2) To abstain from stealing 
i.e. acquiring or keeping by fraud or violence, the property of another: (3) To 
Abstain from telling untruth: (4) To abstain from lust: (5) To abstain from 
intoxicating drinks. 

A part of the misery and unhappiness in the world was according to the Buddha 
the result of man's inequity towards man. How was this inequity to be removed ? 
For the removal of man's inequity towards man the Buddha prescribed the Noble 
Eight-Fold Path. The elements of the Noble Fight-Fold Path are: 

(1) Right views i.e. freedom from superstition: (2) Right aims, high and worthy 
of the intelligent and earnest men; (3) Right speech i.e. kindly, open, truthful: (4) 
Right Conduct i.e. peaceful, honest and pure; (5) Right livelihood i.e. causing hurt 
or injury to no living being; (6) Right perseverance in all the other seven; (7) Right 
mindfulness i.e. with a watchful and active mind; and (8) Right contemplation i.e. 
earnest thought on the deep mysteries of life. 

The aim of the Noble Eight-Fold Path is to establish on earth the kingdom of 
righteousness, and thereby to banish sorrow and unhappiness from the face of 
the world. 

The third part of the Gospel is the doctrine of Nibbana. The doctrine of Nibbana 
is an integral part of the doctrine of the Noble Eight-Fold Path. Without Nibbana 
the realisation of the Eight-Fold Path cannot be accomplished. 

The doctrine of Nibbana tells what are the difficulties in the way of the 
realisation of the Eight-Fold Path. 

The chiefs of these difficulties are ten in number. The Buddha called them the 
Ten Asavas, Fetters or Hindrances. 

The first hindrance is the delusion of self. So long as a man is wholly occupied 
with himself, chasing after every bauble that he vainly thinks will satisfy the 
cravings of his heart, there is no noble path for him. Only when his eyes have 
been opened to the fact that he is but a tiny part of a measureless, whole, only 
when he begins to realise how impermanent a thing is his temporary individuality 
can he even enter upon this narrow path. 

The second is Doubt and Indecision. When a man's eyes are opened to the 
great mystery of existence, the impermanence of every individuality, he is likely 
to be assailed by doubt and indecision as to his action. To do or not to do, after 
all my individuality is impermanent, why do anything are questions, which make 
him indecisive or inactive. But that will not do in life. He must make up his mind to 
follow the teacher, to accept the truth and to enter on the struggle or he will get 
no further. 

The third is dependence on the efficacy of Rites and Ceremonies. No good 
resolutions, however firm will lead to anything unless a man gets rid of ritualism: 
of the belief that any outward acts, any priestly powers, and holy ceremonies, 
can afford him an assistance of any kind. It is only when he has overcome this 
hindrance, that men can be said to have fairly entered upon the stream and has 
a chance sooner or later to win a victory. 

" The fourth consists of the bodily passions... The fifth is ill will towards other 
individuals. The sixth is the suppression of the desire for a future life with a 
material body and the seventh is the desire for a future life in an immaterial 

The eighth hindrance is Pride and nineth is self-righteousness. These are 
failings which it is most difficult for men to overcome, and to which superior 
minds are peculiarly liable a Praisaical contempt for those who are less able and 
less holy than themselves. 

The tenth hindrance is ignorance. When all other difficulties are conquered this 
will even remain, the thorn in the flesh of the wise a.nd good, the last enemy and 
the bitterest foe of man. 

Nibbana consists in overcoming these hindrances to the pursuit of the Noble 
Eight-Fold Path. 

The doctrine of the Noble Eight-Fold Path tells what disposition of the mind 
which a person should sedulously cultivate. The doctrine of Nibbana tells of the 
temptation or hindrance which a person should earnestly overcome if he wishes 
to trade along with the Noble Eight-Fold Path 

The Fourth Part of the new Gospel is the doctrine of Paramitas. The doctrine of 
Paraimitas inculcates the practice of ten virtues in one's daily life. 

These are those ten virtues — d) Panna (2) Sila (3) Nekkhama (4) Dana(5) 
Virya(6) Khanti(7) Succa(8) Aditthana(9) Mettaa-nd (10) Upekkha. 

Panna or wisdom is the light that removes the darkenss of Avijja, Moha or 
Nescience. The Panna requires that one must get all his doubts removed by 
questioning those wiser than him self, associate with the wise and cultivate the 
different arts and sciences which help to develop the mind. 

Sila is moral temperament, the disposition not to do evil and the disposition to 
do good; to be ashamed of doing wrong. To avoid doing evil for fear of 
punishment is Sila. Sila means fear of doing wrong. Nekkhama is renunciation of 
the pleasures of the world. Dana means the giving of one's possessions, blood 
and limbs and even one's life for the good of the others without expecting 
anything in return. 

Virya is right endeavour. It is doing with all your might with thought never 
turning back, whatever you have undertaken to do. 

Khanti is forbearance. Not to meet hatred by harted is the essence of it. For 
hatred is not appeased by hatred. It is appeased only by forbearance. 

Succa is truth. An aspirant for Buddha never speaks a lie. His speech is truth 
and nothing but truth. 

Aditthana is resolute determination to reach the goal. Metta is fellow feeling 
extending to all beings, foe and friend, beast and man. 

Upekka is detachment as distinguished from indifference. It is a state of mind 
where there is neither like nor dislike. Remaining unmoved by the result and yet 
engaged in the pursuit of it. 

These virtues one must practice to his utmost capacity. That is why they are 
called Paramitas (States of Perfection). 

Such is the gospel the Buddha enunciated as a result of his enlightenment to 
end the sorrow and misery in the world. 

It is clear that the means adopted by the Buddha were to convert a man by 
changing his moral disposition to follow the path voluntarily. 

The means adopted by the Communists are equally clear, short and swift. They 
are (1) Violence and (2) Dictatorship oft he Proletariat. 

The Communists say that there are the only two means of establishing 
communism. The first is violence. Nothing short of it will suffice to break up the 
existing system. The other is dictatorship of the proletariat. Nothing short of it will 
suffice to continue the new system. 

It is now clear what are the similarities and differences between Buddha and 
Karl Marx. The differences are about the means. The end is common to both. 


We must now turn to the evaluation of means. We must ask whose means are 
superior and lasting in the long run. There are, however some misunderstandings 
on both sides. It is necessary to clear them up. Take violence. As to violence 
there are many people who seem to shiver at the very thought of it. But this is 
only a sentiment. Violence cannot be altogether dispensed with. Even in non- 
communist countries a murderer is hanged. Does not hanging amount to 
violence? Non-communist countries go to war with non-communist countries. 
Millions of people are killed. Is this no violence? If a murderer can be killed, 
because he has killed a citizen, if a soldier can be killed in war because he 
belongs to a hostile nation why cannot a property owner be killed if his ownership 
leads to misery for the rest of humanity? There is no reason to make an 
exception in favour of the property owner, why one should regard private 
property as sacrosanct. 

The Buddha was against violence. But he was also in favour of justice and 
where justice required he permitted the use of force. This is well illustrated in his 
dialogue with Sinha Senapati the Commander-in-Chief of Vaishali. Sinha having 
come to know that the Buddha preached Ahimsa went to him and asked: 

"The Bhagvan preaches Ahimsa. Does the Bhagvan preach an offender to be 
given freedom from punishment? Does the Bhagvan preach that we should not 

go to war to save our wives, our children and our wealth? Should we suffer at the 
hands of criminals in the name of Ahimsa.?" 

" Does the Tathagata prohibit all war even when it is in the interest of Truth and 

Buddha replied. You have wrongly understood what I have been preaching. An 
offender must be punished and an innocent man must be freed. It is not a fault of 
the Magistrate if he punishes an offender. The cause of punishment is the fault of 
the offender. The Magistrate who inflicts the punishment is only carrying out the 
law. He does not become stained with Ahimsa. A man who fights for justice and 
safety cannot be accused of Ahimsa. If all the means of maintaining peace have 
failed then the responsibility for Himsa falls on him who starts war. One must 
never surrender to evil powers. War there may be. But it must not be for selfish 

There are of course other grounds against violence such as those urged by 
Prof. John Dewey. In dealing with those who contend that the end justifies the 
means is morally perverted doctrine, Dewey has rightly asked what can justify 
the means if not the end ? It is only the end that can justify the means. 

Buddha would have probably admitted that it is only the end which would justify 
the means. What else could? And he would have said that if the end justified 
violence, violence was a legitimate means for the end in view. He certainly would 
not have exempted property owners from force if force were the only means for 
that end. As we shall see his means for the end were different. As Prof. Dewey 
has pointed out that violence is only another name for the use of force and 
although force must be used for creative purposes a distinction between use of 
force as energy and use of force as violence needs to be made. The 
achievement of an end involves the destruction of many other ends, which are 
integral with the one that is sought to be destroyed. Use of force must be so 
regulated that it should save as many ends as possible in destroying the evil one. 
Buddha's Ahimsa was not as absolute as the Ahimsa preached by Mahavira the 
founder of Jainism. He would have allowed force only as energy. The 
communists preach Ahimsa as an absolute principle. To this the Buddha was 
deadly opposed. 

As to Dictatorship the Buddha would have none of it. He was born a democrat 
and he died a democrat. At the time he lived there were 14 monarchical states 
and 4 republics. He belonged to the Sakyas and the Sakya's kingdom was a 
republic. He was extremely in love with Vaishali which was his second home 
because it was a republic. Before his Mahaparinirbban he spent his Varshavasa 
in Vaishali. After the completion of his Varshavasa he decided to leave Vaishali 
and go elsewhere as was his wont. After going some distance he looked back on 

Vaishali and said to Ananda. "This is the last look of Vaishali which the Tathagata 
is having So fond was he of this republic. 

He was a thorough equalitarian. Originally the Bhikkus, including the Buddha 
himself, wore robes made of rags. This rule was enunciated to prevent the 
aristocratic classes from joining the Sangh. Later Jeevaka the great physician 
prevailed upon the Buddha to accept a robe, which was made of a whole cloth. 
The Buddha at once altered the rule and extended it to all the monks. 

Once the Buddha's mother Mahaprajapati Gotami who had joined the Bhikkuni 
Sangh heard that the Buddha had got a chill. She at once started preparing a 
scarf for him. After having completed it she took to the Buddha and asked him to 
wear it. But he refused to accept it saying that if it is a gift it must be a gift to the 
whole Sangh and not to an individual member of the Sangh. She pleaded and 
pleaded but he refused to yield. 

The Bhikshu Sangh had the most democratic constitution. He was only one of 
the Bhikkus. At the most he was like a Prime Minister among members of the 
Cabinet. He was never a dictator. Twice before his death he was asked to 
appoint some one as the head of the Sangh to control it. But each time he 
refused saying that the Dhamma is the Supreme Commander of the Sangh. He 
refused to be a dictator and refused to appoint a dictator. 

What about the value of the means? Whose means are superior and lasting in 
the long run? 

Can the Communists say that in achieving their valuable end they have not 
destroyed other valuable ends? They have destroyed private property. Assuming 
that this is a valuable end can the Communists say that they have not destroyed 
other valuable end in the process of achieving it? How many people have they 
killed for achieving their end. Has human life no value ? Could they not have 
taken property without taking the life of the owner ? 

Take dictatorship. The end of Dictatorship is to make the Revolution a 
permanent revolution. This is a valuable end. But can the Communists say that in 
achieving this end they have not destroyed other valuable ends ? Dictatorship is 
often defined as absence of liberty or absence of Parliamentary Government. 
Both interpretations are not quite clear. There is no liberty even when there is 
Parliamentary Government. For law means want of liberty. The difference 
between Dictatorship and Parliamentary Govt, lies in this. In Parliamentary 
Government every citizen has a right to criticise the restraint on liberty imposed 
by the Government. In Parliamentary Government you have a duty and a right; 
the duty to obey the law and right to criticise it. In Dictatorship you have only duty 
to obey but no right to criticise it. 


We must now consider whose means are more lasting. One has to choose 
between Government by force and Government by moral disposition. 

As Burke has said force cannot be a lasting means. In his speech on 
conciliation with America he uttered this memorable warning: 

" First, Sir, permit me to observe, that the use of force alone is but temporary. It 
may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing 
again; and a nation is not governed which is perpetually to be conquered. " 

" My next objection is its uncertainty. Terror is not always the effect of force, 
and an armament is not a victory. If you do not succeed, you are without 
resource, for, conciliation failing, force remains; but force failing, no further hope 
of reconciliation is left. Power and authority are sometimes bought by kindness; 
but they can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated 

A further objection to force is that you impair the object by your very 
endeavours to preserve it. The thing you fought for is the thing, which you 
recover, but depreciated, sunk, wasted and consumed in the contest. " 

In a sermon addressed to the Bhikkus the Buddha has shown the difference 
between the rule by Righteousness and Rule by law i.e. force. Addressing the 
Brethren he said: 

(2) Long ago, brethren, there was Sovereign overlord named Strongtyre, a king 
ruling in righteousness, lord of the four quarters of the earth, conqueror, the 
protector of his people. He was the possessor of the celestial wheel. He lived in 
supremacy over this earth to its ocean bounds, having conquered it, not by the 
courage, by the sword, but by righteousness. 

(3) Now, brethren, after many years, after many hundred years, after manu 
thousand years, king Strongtyre command a certain man, saying: 

"Thou should est see, Sir, the Celestial Wheel has sunk a little, has slipped 
down from its place, bring me word. " 

Now after many many hundred years had slipped down from its place On 
seeing this he went to King Strongtyre and said: "Know, sir, for a truth that the 
Celestial Wheel has sunk, has slipped down from its place. " 

The king Strongtyre, brethren, let the prince his eldest son be sent for and 
speak thus: 

' Behold, dear boy, my Celestial Wheel has sunk a little, has slipped down from 
its place. Now it has been told me; If the Celestial Wheel of a wheel turning King 
shall sink down, shall slip down from its place, that king has not much longer to 
live. I have had my fill of human pleasures; 'It's time to seek after divine joys, 
Come, dear boy, take thou charge over this earth bounded by the ocean. But I, 

shaving, hair and beard, and donning yellow robes, will go forth from home into 
the homeless state. 

So brethren. King Strongtyre, having in due form established his eldest son on 
the throne, shaved hair and bearded, donned yellow robes and went forth from 
home into homeless state. But on the seventh day after the royal hermit had 
gone forth, the Celestial Wheel disappeared. 

(4) Then a certain man went to the King, and told him, saying: Know, 0 King, for 
a truth, that the Celestial Wheel has disappeared! 

Then that King, brethren, was grieved thereat and afflicted with sorrow. And he 
went to the royal hermit, and told him, saying, Know, sir, for a truth, that the 
Celestial Wheel has disappeared. 

And the anointed king so saying, the royal hermit made reply. Grieve thou not, 
dear son, that the Celestial Wheel has disappeared, nor be afflicted that the 
Celestial Wheel has disappeared. For no paternal heritage of thin, dear son, is 
the Celestial Wheel. But verily, dear son, turn thou in the Ariyan turning of the 
Wheel-turners. (Act up to the noble ideal of duty set before themselves by the 
true sovereigns of the world). Then it may well be that if thou carry out the Ariyan 
duty of a Wheel-turning Monarch, and on the feast of the moon thou wilt for, with 
bathed head to keep the feast on the chief upper terrace, to the Celestial Wheel 
will manifest, itself with its thousand spokes its tyre, navel and all its part 
complete. (5) 'Put what, sire is this Ariya duty of a Wheel-turning Monarch?' This, 
dear son, that thou, leaning on the Norm (the law of truth and righteousness) 
honouring, respecting and revering it, doing homage to it, hallowing it, being 
thyself a Norm-banner, a Norm-signal, having the Norm as thy master, should 
provide the right watch, ward, and protection for thine own folk, for the army, for 
the nobles, for vassals, for brahmins and house holders, for town and country 
dwellers, for the religious world, and for beasts and birds. Throughout thy 
kingdom let no wrongdoing prevail. And whosoever in thy kingdom is poor, to him 
let wealth be given. 

' And when dear son, in thy kingdom men of religious life, renouncing the 
carelessness arising from intoxication of the senses, and devoted to forbearance 
and sympathy, each mastering self, each claiming self, each protecting self, shall 
come to thee from time to time, and question the concerning what is good and 
what is bad. what is criminal and what is not, what is to be done and what is to be 
left undone, what line of action will in the long run work for weal or for woe, thou 
shouldest hear what they have to say and thou shouldest deter them from evil, 
and bid them take up what is good. This, dear son, is the Ariyan duty of a 
sovereign of the world.' 

' Even so, ' sire, answered the anointed king, and obeying, and carried out the 
Ariyan duty of a sovereign lord. To him, thus behaving, when on the feast of the 

full moon he had gone in the observance with bathed head to the chief upper 
Terrance the Celestial Wheel revealed itself, with its thousand spokes, its tyre, its 
naval, and all its part complete. And seeing this is occurred to the king: ' It has 
been told me that a king to whom on such a occasion the Celestial Wheel reveals 
itself completely, becomes a Wheel-turning monarch. May I even I also become 
a sovereign of the world.' 

(6) Then brethren, the king arose from his seat and uncovering his robe from 
one shoulder, took in his left hand a pitcher, and with his right hand sprinkled up 
over the Celestial Wheel, saying: ' Roll onward, O Lord Wheel! Go forth and 
overcome, O Lord Wheel ! ' Then, brethren, the Celestial Wheel rolled onwards 
towards the region of the East, and after it went the Wheel-turning king, and with 
him his army, horses and chariots and elephants and men. And in whatever 
place, brethren, the wheel stopped, there the king, the victorious war-lord, took 
up his abode, and with him his fourfold army. Then the all, the rival kings in the 
region of the East came to the sovereign king and said 'Come, O mighty king! 
Welcome, O mighty king! All is thine, O mighty King! Teach us, O mighty king! ' 

The king, the sovereign war-lord, speak thus: 'Ye shall slay no living thing. Ye 
shall not take that which has not been given. Ye shall not act wrongly touching 
bodily desires. Ye shall speak no lie. Ye shall drink no maddening drink. Enjoy 
your possessions as you have been wont to do.' 

(7) Then, brethern, the Celestial Wheel, plunging down to the Eastern ocean, 
rose up out again, and rolled onwards to the region of the south.... (and there all 
happened as had happened in the East). And in like manner the Celestial Wheel, 
plunging into Southern ocean, rose up out again and rolled onward to the region 
of the West. . . and of the North: and there too happened as had happened in the 
Southern and West. 

Then when the Celestial Wheel had gone forth conquering over the whole earth 
to its ocean boundary, it returned to the royal city, and stood, so that one might 
think it fixed, in front of the judgement hall at entrance to the inner apartments of 
the king, the Wheel-turner, lighting up with its glory the facade of the inner 
apartments of the king, the sovereign of the world. 

(8) And a second king, brethern, also a Wheel-turning monarch,. . . and a third. 

. . and a fourth. . . and a fifth. . . and a sixth. . . and a seventh king, a victorious 
war-lord, after many years, after many hundred years, after many thousand 
years, command a certain man, saying: 

'If thou should'est see, sirrah, that the Celestial Wheel has sunk down, has slid 
from its place, bring me word.' 'Even so, sire.' replied the man. 

So after many years, after many hundred years, after many thousand years, 
that man saw that the Celestial Wheel had sunk down, had become dislodged 
from its place. And so seeing he went to the king, the warlord, and told him. 

Then that king did (even as Strongtyre had done). And on the seventh day after 
the royal hermit had gone forth the Celestial Wheel disappeared. 

Then a certain man went and told the King. Then the King was grieved at the 
disappearance of the wheel, and afflicted with grief. But he did not go to the 
hermit-king to ask concerning, the Ariyan Duty of sovereign war-lord. But his own 
ideas, forsooth, he governed his people; and they so governed differently from 
what they had been, did not prosper as they used to do under former kings who 
had carried out the Arivan duty of a sovereign king. 

Then, brethren, the ministers and courtiers, the finance officials, the guards and 
door keepers and they who lived by sacred verses came to the King and speak 

Thy people, O king, whilst thou governest them by thine own ideas differently 
from the way to which they were used when former kings were carrying out the 
Arivan Duty prosper not. Now there are in thy kingdom ministers and courtiers, 
finance officers, guards and custodians, and they who live by sacred verses — 
both all of us and others — who keep the knowledge of the Ariyan duty of the 
sovereign king, to ! O king, do thou ask us concerning it: to thee thus asking will 
we declare it.' 

9. Then, brethren, the king, having made the ministers and all the rest sit down 
together, asked them about the Ariyan duty of Sovereign war-lord. And they 
declared it unto him. And when he had heard them, he did provide the due watch 
and ward protection, but on the destitute he bestowed no wealth and because 
this was not done, poverty became widespread. 

When poverty was thus become rife, a certain man took that which others had 
not given him, what people call by theft. Him they caught, and brought before the 
king, saying: This man, O king has taken that which was not given to him and 
that is theft'. 

Thereupon the king speak thus to the man. 'Is it true sirrah, that thou hast taken 
what no man gave thee, hast committed what men call theft.' It is true, O king.' 
'But why?' 

'O king, I have nothing to keep me alive.' Then the king bestowed wealth on 
that man, saying: 'With this wealth sir, do thou both keep thyself alive, maintain 
thy parents, maintain children and wife, carry on thy business.' 'Even so, O king,' 
replied the man. 

10. Now another man, brethren, took by theft what was not given him. Him they 
caught and brought before the king and told him., saying: 'this man, O king, hath 
taken by theft what was not given him'. 

And the king (spoke and did even as he had spoken and done to the former 

11. Now men heard brethren, that to them who had taken by theft what was not 
given them, the King was giving wealth. And hearing they thought, let us then 
take by theft what has not been given us. 

Now a certain man did so. And him they caught and charged before the king 
who (as before) asked him why he had stolen. 'Because, O king I cannot 
maintain myself. Then the king thought: If I bestow wealth on anyone so ever 
who has taken by theft what was not given him, there will be hereby and increase 
of this stealing. Let me now put final stop to this and inflict condign punishment 
on him, have his head cut off! 

So he bade his man saying ' now look ye! bind this man's arms behind him with 
a strong rope and tight knot, shave his head bald, lead him around with a harsh 
sounding drum, from road to road, from cross ways to cross ways, take him out 
by the southern gate and to the south of the town, put a final stop to this, inflict on 
him uttermost penalty, cut of his head.' 

' Even so, O king ' answered the men, and carried out his commands. 

12. Now men heard, brethren, that they who took by theft what was not given 
them were thus put to death. And hearing they thought, let us also now have 
sharp swords made ready for themselves, and them from whom we take what is 
not given us — what they call them — let us put a final stop to them, inflict on them 
uttermost penalty., and their heads off. 

And they got themselves sharp swords, and came forth to sack village and 
town and city, and to work highway robbery. And then whom they robbed they 
made an end of, cutting off their heads. 

13. Thus, brethren, from goods not being bestowed on the destitute poverty 
grieve rife; from poverty growing rife stealing increased, from the spread of 
stealing violence grew space, from the growth of violence the destruction of life 
common, from the frequency of murder both the span of life in those beings and 
their comeliness also (diminished). 

Now among humans of latter span of life, brethren, a certain took by theft what 
was not given him and even as those others was accused before the king and 
questioned if it was true that he had stolen. 'Nay, O king,' he replied, 'they are 
deliberately telling lies.' 14. Thus from goods not being bestowed on the 
destitute, poverty grew rife... stealing... violence... murder... until lying grew 

Again a certain man reported to the king, saying ' such and such a man, O king! 
has taken by theft what was not given him ' — thus speaking evil of him. 

15. And so, brethren, from goods not being bestowed on the destitute poverty 
grew rife... stealing... violence... murder... lying... evil speaking grew abundant. 

1 6. From lying there grew adultery. 

17. Thus from goods not being bestowed on the destitute, poverty... stealing... 
violence... murder... lying... evil speaking. .. immorality grew rife. 

18. Among (them) brethren, three things grew space incest, wanton greed and 
perverted lust. 

Then these things grew apace lack of filial piety to mother and father, lack of 
religious piety to holy men, lack of regard for the head of the clan. 

19. There will come a time, brethren, when the descendants of those humans 
will have a life-span of ten years. Among humans of this life span, maidens of 
five years will be of a marriageable age. Among such humans these kinds of 
tastes (savours) will disappear; ghee, butter, oil of tila, sugar, salt. Among such 
humans kudrusa grain will be the highest kind of food. Even as to-day rice and 
curry is the highest kind of food, so will kudrusa grain will be then. Among such 
humans the ten moral courses of conduct will altogether disappear, the 
tenimmoral courses of action will flourish excessively; there will be no word for 
moral among such humans, the ten moral courses of conduct will altogether 
disappear, the ten immoral courses of action will flourish excessively, there will 
be no word for moral among such humans — far less any moral agent. Among 
such humans, brethren, they who lack filian and religious piety, and show no 
respect for the Head of the clan — 'tis they to whom homage and praise will be 
given, just as to-day homage and praise are given to the filial minded, to the 
pious and to them who respect the heads of their clans. 

20. Among such humans, brethren, there will be no (such thoughts of 
reverence as are a bar to intermarriage with) mother, or mother's sister, or 
mother's sister-in-law, or teacher's wife, or father's sister-in-law. The world will fall 
into promiscuity, like goats and sheep, fowls and swine, dogs and jackals. 

Among such humans, brethren keen mutual enmity will become the rule, keen 
ill-will, keen animosity, passionate thoughts even of killing, in a mother towards 
her child, in a child towards its father, in brother to brother, in brother to sister, in 
sister to brother. Just a sportsman feels towards the game that he sees, so will 
they feel. 

This is probably the finest picture of what happens when moral force fails and 
brutal force takes its place. What the Buddha wanted was that each man should 
be morally so trained that he may himself become a sentinel for the kingdom of 


The Communists themselves admit that their theory of the State as a 
permanent dictatorship is a weakness in their political philosophy. They take 
shelter under the plea that the State will ultimately wither away. There are two 
questions, which they have to answer. When will it wither away? What will take 

the place of the State when it withers away? To the first question they can give 
no definite time. Dictatorship for a short period may be good and a welcome thing 
even for making Democracy safe. Why should not Dictatorship liquidate itself 
after it has done its work, after it has removed all the obstacles and boulders in 
the way of democracy and has made the path of Democracy safe. Did not Asoka 
set an example? He practised violence against the Kalingas. But thereafter he 
renounced violence completely. If our victor’s to-day not only disarm their victims 
but also disarm themselves there would be peace all over the world. 

The Communists have given no answer. At any rate no satisfactory answer to 
the question what would take the place of the State when it withers away, though 
this question is more important than the question when the State will wither 
away. Will it. be succeeded by Anarchy? If so the building up of the Communist 
State is an useless effort. If it cannot be sustained except by force and if it results 
in anarchy when the force holding it together is withdraws what good is the 
Communist State. The only thing, which could sustain it after force is withdrawn, 
is Religion. But to the Communists Religion is anathema. Their hatred to Religion 
is so deep seated that they will not even discriminate between religions which are 
helpful to Communism and religions which are not; The Communists have 
carried their hatred of 

Christianity to Buddhism without waiting to examine the difference between the 
two. The charge against Christianity levelled by the Communists was two fold. 
Their first charge against Christianity was that they made people other 
worldliness and made them suffer poverty in this world. As can be seen from 
quotations from Buddhism in the earlier part of this tract such a charge cannot be 
levelled against Buddhism. 

The second charge levelled by the Communists against Christianity cannot be 
levelled against Buddhism. This charge is summed up in the statement that 
Religion is the opium of the people. This charge is based upon the Sermon on 
the Mount which is to be found in the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount 
sublimates poverty and weakness. It promises heaven to the poor and the weak. 
There is no Sermon on the Mount to be found in the Buddha's teachings. His 
teaching is to acquire wealth. I give below his Sermon on the subject to 
Anathapindika one of his disciples. 

Once Anathapindika came to where the Exalted One was staying. Having come 
he made obeisance to the Exalted One and took a seat at one side and asked 
'Will the Enlightened One tell what things are welcome, pleasant, agreeable, to 
the householder but which are hard to gain.' 

The Enlightened One having heard the question put to him said ' Of such things 
the first is to acquire wealth lawfully.' 

'The second is to see that your relations also get their wealth lawfully.' 

'The third is to live long and reach great age.' 'Of a truth, householder, for the 
attainment of these four things, which in the world are welcomed, pleasant 
agreeable but hard to gain, there are also four conditions precedent. They are 
the blessing of faith, the blessing of virtuous conduct, the blessing of liberality 
and the blessing of wisdom. 

The Blessing of virtuous conduct which abstains From taking life, thieving, 
unchastely, lying and partaking of fermented liquor. 

The blessing of liberality consists in the householder living with mind freed from 
the taint of avarice, generous, open-handed, delighting in gifts, a good one to be 
asked and devoted to the distribution of gifts. 

Wherein consists the blessing of Wisdom? He know that an householder who 
dwells with mind overcome by greed, avarice, ill-will, sloth, drowsiness, 
distraction and flurry, and also about, commits wrongful deeds and neglects that 
which ought to be done, and by so doing deprived of happiness and honour. 

Greed, avarice, ill will, sloth and drowsiness, distraction and flurry and doubt 
are stains of the mind. A householder who gets rid of such stains of the mind 
acquires great wisdom, abundant wisdom, clear vision and perfect wisdom. 

Thus to acquire wealth legitimately and justly, earn by great industry, amassed 
by strength of the arm and gained by sweat of the brow is a great blessing. The 
householder makes himself happy and cheerful and preserves himself full of 
happiness; also makes his parents, wife, and children, servants, and labourers, 
friends and companions happy and cheerful, and preserves them full of 
happiness. The Russians do not seem to be paying any attention to Buddhism as 
an ultimate aid to sustain Communism when force is withdrawn. 

The Russians are proud of their Communism. But they forget that the wonder of 
all wonders is that the Buddha established Communism so far as the Sangh was 
concerned without dictatorship. It may be that it was a communism on a very 
small scale but it was communism I without dictatorship a miracle which Lenin 
failed to do. 

The Buddha's method was different. His method was to change the mind of 
man: to alter his disposition: so that whatever man does, he does it voluntarily 
without the use of force or compulsion. His main means to alter the disposition of 
men was his Dhamma and the constant preaching of his Dhamma. The Buddhas 
way was not to force people to do what they did not like to do although it was 
good for them. His way was to alter the disposition of men so that they would do 
voluntarily what they would not otherwise to do. 

It has been claimed that the Communist Dictatorship in Russia has wonderful 
achievements to its credit. There can be no denial of it. That is why I say that a 
Russian Dictatorship would be good for all backward countries. But this is no 
argument for permanent Dictatorship. Humanity does not only want economic 

values, it also wants spiritual values to be retained. Permanent Dictatorship has 
paid no attention to spiritual values and does not seem to intend to. Carlyle called 
Political Economy a Pig Philosophy. Carlyle was of course wrong. For man 
needs material comforts" But the Communist Philosophy seems to be equally 
wrong for the aim of their philosophy seems to be fatten pigs as though men are 
no better than pigs. Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Society has 
been aiming to lay a new foundation was summarised by the French Revolution 
in three words, Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was 
welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality. We welcome the 
Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too 
much emphasised that in producing equality society cannot afford to sacrifice 
fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It 
seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. 
Communism can give one but not all.